It was a glorious morning when we set off for the journey to Bocairent and the start of the greenway. My wife and son had volunteered to drop me off before driving down to Gandia to spend the afternoon on the beach waiting for my eventual arrival.
As we approached the start the weather had cooled a little which is better for me as long as it remains dry. Van unloaded bike checked over, a few pictures taken and off I went on the start of the approx 40-mile journey heading gradually downhill from the beautiful old inland town to Grau which is the small town on the coast near Gandia.
At a little over 2km, a stop was made to take a picture, although I am now quite adept at taking them on the go, and off again, what a wonderful way to travel. Then bang, rattle, rattle, a little odd for an obvious puncture, ho-hum it's all part of the joy of cycling. On closer inspection not only had the inner-tube burst but so had the tyre, bugger. Being well prepared and learning from previous experiences I now carry pre-glued patches and a spare tube along with the usual array of tools etc, but no spare tyre.
So with thoughts of being stuck 40 miles from the family on a Sunday afternoon in Spain (most cycle shops are closed on Saturday afternoon let alone Sunday) with a destroyed tyre, the mobile came out and calls were made, it wasn't too bad they had only managed about 10km.
Back towards Bocairent, I trudged dragging my bike with semi-inflated rear tyre until the rescue party came around the corner on its rescue mission. Was the day over? Hopefully not. Whilst trying to find the start of the route earlier in the day a sign had been spotted for Club Ciclista Bocairent and members were seen entering the building so it may be worth a look.
The people at the club could not have been more helpful, they found a new mountain bike inner-tube that I could buy and for a reasonable price and then took me to the house of a retired bike dealer who just happened to have an MTB tyre I could also buy. It didn't match what I had but at this point, beggers can't be choosers.
Back to the old station we went and set to work fitting the new tyre deciding to use my spare tube from my bike pack and save the new one as a spare.
With a cheery wave, all was right in the world and off I go again, past the 3km explosion point and onwards hoping to find some tunnels and bridges to look at on the way. The track at this point is wide and paved as it is an access road to farms and fields along the old line, so watch for traffic especially at the crossings. The road finally comes to an end at a T-junction and there isn't a track opposite, hmm? From the information found on the internet in advance, I knew that at some point I would have to cross to the other side of the new railway line to avoid a section where the bridge had collapsed. So down and up we go across the valley to look for the continuation, but as usual, no signs were to be found. Returning again to the original side a track was found heading in the right direction, this turned out to be the correct track, shame there are no signs.
At Agres you follow the trail right down onto the platform for the new station, where you can take pictures of the old station building opposite, before doubling back on yourself about 50m to cross to the new track by the bridge and continuing down the back of the old station. the track is narrower here with small cuttings through the hillside but no tunnels yet.
You will soon come to the remains of an old viaduct though, which you will have to backtrack to avoid, but take a few snaps first.
The track drops down more now out of the hills towards the town of Muro de Alcoi, passing through wooded areas and past a few derelict buildings on the way. Eventually, you come to a small bridge which just has the spars left, none of the cross members, feeling rather gung-ho and it being only a small gap and not too high I picked up my bike and walked across, for those more sensible out there you can avoid this section by road. a couple of hundred yards later you emerge from the quiet of the countryside to a dual carriageway blocking your path with Armco barriers and speeding cars. Here I went a little (ahem) wrong turning right instead of left heading away from Muro de Alcoi and into Concetaina.
After a good deal of unnecessary pedalling and a small amount of swearing, I returned to Muro de Alcoi and found the old station buildings and followed a road from there which I knew went in roughly the direction of the old line.
It's hard in an urban environment to follow a railway line that was abandoned almost 60yrs ago and has in many areas been built over. Eventually coming out of the town in roughly the right direction I managed to miss the line completely and decided instead to abandon my plans and set the GPS for Gandia and see where the route would take me.
Uphill and down dale that's where it went before levelling off along the valley floor towards the village of Lorcha, remembering some of my pre-ride investigations, Lorcha was on the second part of my planned route so all I had to do was find the old line in the village and off we would go again. Entering the village over a narrow bridge I was scouring the hillside for signs of a railway line, nothing obvious. Climbing up through the village there was hardly a soul about and no signs that I could see for walking routes or railway lines, so again back to the plan of just returning to Gandia by road. Climbing out of Lorcha on quite a steep section of road I stopped to take in the view (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) by a sign for motorists entering the village, for a railway restaurant and also a sign for the Bocairent to Gandia railway company. It would have been nice if it was at the bottom of the hill. So do you continue up the hill or go back down and try to find the proper route?
Down I went scouring every inch of the countryside until I went back over the narrow bridge and found some hikers heading down a very narrow path just on the other side, This turned out not to be the route of the old railway but an access path from the village to it. Following this section of the route was a joy as it snakes its way alongside the Rio Serpis. Here you will find old railway buildings, viaducts (disused) and tunnels to enjoy (lights required).
Stopping to take pictures along the way and help others with their group shots meant slow progress in this area, but it was worth it. There are a couple of points where you have to deviate from the original route because of the dismantled viaducts but they are either obvious or signed making it much easier than the earlier part of the day.
Once you come to the last viaduct the detour takes you much higher up the valley side than the river and railway and for a few km you run parallel with them before rejoining just before Villalonga. The route from here is mainly within sight of the road until you get to Gandia itself or carry on down to Grau as I did.
Hopefully, with a little more investigation and a return trip, I will be able to recreate a more accurate version of the old line, if I don't get lost or destroy my bike in the process.
The route was eventually logged as five separate items on www.Sports-Tracker.com due to the tyre issue, flat GPS battery and then user error.
Part 1, Before the puncture.
Part 2, Start again.
Part 3, Flat GPS Battery.
Part 4 GPS User Error.
Part 5 The Final Stretch.
Thanks must go to the Club Ciclista Bocairent for all their help getting me back up and running and also my lovely wife for the transport.